Gini Dietrich

PR Crisis for Skittles In Wake of Controversial Teen Shooting

By: Gini Dietrich | April 4, 2012 | 
221

I’ve been watching a different kind of PR crisis unfold with great interest – that of Skittles.

Skittles, you say? Taste the fruity rainbow, Skittles?

Yes, Skittles.

Because of the symbolism of the candy (Trayvon Martin was carrying only Skittles and a drink when he was shot), college student governments are buying it in bulk and reselling it to raise money for his family.

The candy has been piled into makeshift memorials, crammed into the pockets of thousands of people who have shown up at rallies in his name, and sent to the Sanford Police Department to protest the lack of an arrest in the case.

Sales are soaring for Skittles maker, Wrigley. But its new level of fame is quickly becoming a PR crisis that is threatening to hurt the company, more than it helps.

I know, I know. Sales are up. Everyone is talking about them. So what’s the problem?

According to the New York Times, people are calling for donations and giving back to communities where “murder based on stereotypes is a reoccurring theme.”

On social media sites like Twitter, people are suggesting that Wrigley is profiting greatly from the tragedy and should donate money made since Trayvon’s death to the family or causes that would help with racial reconciliation or underprivileged communities. Some African-Americans are even asking people to stop buying Skittles until the company gets more involved in the case and donates money.

So, just like we discussed yesterday where Etch A Sketch took advantage of a Romney senior aide’s gaffe and is selling more toys, Wrigley now has the opposite problem. Trayvon had Skittles in his pocket when he was killed and protestors are using the candy as a symbol for his death.

Clearly going the route of capitalizing on this opportunity is not the right thing to do. Is donating some of the increased profits the right thing to do? Is staying silent and watching it all unfold the right thing to do?

As communication professionals, we’re trained throughout our careers to deal with things such as someone dying from eating your product or someone being killed on the job. But this one? This one isn’t a case study you find very often, nor is it a scenario you typically include in your crisis management plan.

This is a crisis where “I”m sorry” doesn’t work. It’s a crisis where people on the social networks are telling you how to run your company. And, if you don’t donate money, you come off as the big, capitalist company, which could hurt you in the long-run.

Seemingly the “right” thing to do is donate money, but I’m not sure that’s the answer either.

What do you think?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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221 Comments on "PR Crisis for Skittles In Wake of Controversial Teen Shooting"

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ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@ACoplin I’m curious, too!

KenMueller
4 years 1 month ago
A really tough call. It’s one of those situations where you had nothing to do with the story, and yet you have become a big part of the story, even though you have done nothing wrong.    And unlike Etch a Sketch, they clearly aren’t trying to capitalize on this. What bothers me is that in some ways they are being held hostage by activists. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you cave in and give, you set what could be a dangerous precedent. If you don’t give, you are the object of scorn.    Not a… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @KenMueller That’s exactly it – they’re being held hostage by the activists. I really don’t know what I’d advise them to do. I’ve worked A LOT of crisis – many where people have died – but I’ve never seen something like this. It’s not even like the Tylenol case, which wasn’t their fault, but they pulled product from the shelves. This is almost the direct opposite.

ClayMorgan
4 years 1 month ago
There is no easy answer. The company’s only involvement was Trayvon Martin was carrying the candy.   Classic mob mentality. People decided, out of protest, to buy Skittles. Now they seem to want Skittles to donate the money. Skittles did nothing to try to take advantage of the situation.   A donation by Skittles would be an act of kindness, compassion and generosity. At the same time, it would be, I think, a sign of weakness before what I call the “social mob.” You can crowd source a lot of things, but how to fundamentally run your company isn’t one… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @ClayMorgan I’m with you! I see both sides, too. I really don’t know what I’d advise them to do. I keep going back and forth. We tell clients not to give in to the vocal minority, as long as they stay on strategy. Perhaps it’s the same advice here.

higginbomb
higginbomb
4 years 1 month ago
It’s a tough call because Wrigley/Skittles has to be careful not to take sides. Their product was only tangentially involved in this event. The question is, to what cause would Wrigley donate? Donating money to an organization that promotes racial equality only reinforces the perception (I call it a perception because it hasn’t been proved, not because I’m a skeptic) that race was involved in the unfortunate outcome of the event.   Really, I think Wrigley needs to wait this out a bit. Perhaps an answer as to the correct path forward will become clear when there is more clarity… Read more »
KenMueller
4 years 1 month ago

 @higginbomb I agree. I think waiting a bit is smart, because some of the latest news that is coming out, seems to indicate there is clearly another side to the story. As tragic as this is, we may never know what really happened.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @higginbomb I almost never recommend a wait and see strategy in a crisis, but I think you’re right – that may be the answer in this case.

thebestjeremy
thebestjeremy
4 years 1 month ago

@Inkling_Media that’s a load of BS. why should Skittles be held responsible in any way, or be pressured into donating? People are so lame.

thebestjeremy
thebestjeremy
4 years 1 month ago

@Inkling_Media it’s not their fault people are buying up Skittle like mad, because of some deranged connection they are choosing to make.

thebestjeremy
thebestjeremy
4 years 1 month ago

@Inkling_Media I will defend Skittles to the death, as they are my favorite candy, ever. They have earned my loyalty with their delciousness

Inkling_Media
Inkling_Media
4 years 1 month ago

@thebestjeremy i agree. i think activists are holding them hostage, thru no fault of their own

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@higginbomb Here too! Thanks!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@higginbomb OMG! This made me LOL: My high school calculus teacher couldn’t pronounce my name, thus birthing my Twitter handle.

higginbomb
higginbomb
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich Thanks! With a handle like mine, I felt some explanation was necessary…

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@higginbomb It’s very funny! Memorable.

Nylons
Nylons
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich @spinsucks Skittles doesn’t have a crisis. Humanity has the crisis.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@Nylons Oh it’s a crisis for Skittles. Activists are extremely vocal in “not making Skittles rich” so they should donate their profits.

Nylons
Nylons
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich I think if we are focused on the candy in any way it, sadly, illustrates my point. it’s misguided. I feel bad for the rainbow.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@Nylons Totally agree with you there. It’s sad people are making it a case of a company making money from a tragedy

CubbyDF
CubbyDF
4 years 1 month ago
Chances are, Wrigley will relent and donate to some cause (my guess is a public park with a memorial garden) and hold a press conference to announce it with Al Sharpton as the featured speaker.  If they make a donation and only do a news release to publicize it they’ll be skewered for trying to capitalize on the death of Trayvon Martin.  If a figure like Sharpton gives his seal of approval then it is unlikely Wrigley will have to dodge any flaming arrows.   Higginbomb is right.  They should wait it out and see what happens. They may do… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @CubbyDF Is it bad this made me laugh out loud? You’re right in that they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. It’s not a position I’d want to be in.

CubbyDF
CubbyDF
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich No, it is silly, but not that far fetched.  And if I’m right, I shall gloat openly on this forum.  🙂  Maybe Wrigley and Jesse Jackson will team up and form the Taste the Rainbow Coalition. 🙂 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @CubbyDF If it happens, I am going to tell everyone you were right!

laneyfitz
laneyfitz
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich that’s just crazy!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@laneyfitz Isn’t it? I feel badly for them.

laneyfitz
laneyfitz
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich so do I. People like to blow things out of whack all the time. It literally makes me mad!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@laneyfitz The sense of entitlement is what drives me crazy. Have I ever told you my sister’s name is Laney? I think that when I see you.

laneyfitz
laneyfitz
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich you haven’t 🙂 haha…I hope she’s nice to you! Haha

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@laneyfitz Well, she’s my sister. So it depends. 🙂

laneyfitz
laneyfitz
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich I hear ya 😉

sydcon_mktg
4 years 1 month ago
Ewww, what a uncomfortable position.  I really dont know what we would do (glad I dont have to find out). I agree with @KenMueller below, being held hostage by the activists is unfair.  They are really damned if the do, damned if they dont.    Essentially these same activist created the problem for Wrigley. Maybe instead of buying all those Skittles they shouldve donated the money to the families or a cause in Trayvon Martin’s name? They chose to buy the Skittles and drive up Wrigley’s profit, Wrigley did not use it as a sales ploy. Shouldnt the activist be in… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @sydcon_mktg  @KenMueller I don’t know that it’s a massive waste of product or cash. They’re buying the candy and then selling to raise money for the family. I appreciate that. And they’re using it as a symbol for his death. I also appreciate that. It’s definitely a blip in sales. So do you donate or not? I don’t know.

sydcon_mktg
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich  @KenMueller In regards to “wasted product” I meant the piles of skittles at makeshift memorials. The money spent on those bags of Skittles isnt raising any money for the family. As a symbol yes.  But ultimately that symbol was purchased with cash that couldve been donated just like they want Wrigley to donate.  I guess what I am trying to say is that the activists should be putting their money where the mouth is and donate versus spending money on the product/symbol then demanding Wrigley donate the funds.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @sydcon_mktg  @KenMueller Ah yes – good point.

jasonkonopinski
4 years 1 month ago

Sometimes activists are their own worse enemies – their zeal sends them careening way off course and companies like Wrigley become unintended casualties. Sad situation, really. 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @jasonkonopinski “Zeal” is a good word. It is a sad situation. I am very curious to see how Wrigley handles it.

HowieSPM
4 years 1 month ago
Really tough spot for Wrigleys. We still don’t know if Trayvon attacked his shooter first or not. Until we know we are all making wild assumptions. I was at the gym that has many TVs. Fox News was on next to a basketball game I was watching. They had 5 white people discussing whether this case was being used by liberals to their advantage (that was the subject of conversation they kept flashing).   Wrigley’s should use the profits from the sales and donate to something in the middle ground in my opinion. But we have no idea what the… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @HowieSPM The weird thing is they’re not boycotting. At all. But there are some groups who are saying, “If we’re going to make you rich, you should donate.” I’m trying to put aside my personal feelings of how entitled that makes them sound and really look at it solely from a PR perspective. I really don’t know what I’d advise them if I were sitting in the board room with them. Unless, of course, I had access to more information that helped make a decision.

HowieSPM
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich Want to know who had to deal with this? Old Spice. They used all those celebs for their first twitter to you tube campaign. The Alyssa Milano said you need to donate $100k to the Humane Society for use of my name with your brand. Notice their second campaign targeted no stars and fell flat with Fabio.
 
So yes I see the issue here. The difference is Skittles did nothing on their own. Old Spice did.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @HowieSPM Yeah…I don’t think it’s the same. Old Spice created that on their own. 

bdorman264
4 years 1 month ago

This case is definitely being played out in the media and the ‘race card’ is certainly a big part of it. I’m trying to withhold judgment and let the court’s decide but I thought this was an interesting article in the paper how media has the ability and can slant public opinion. http://www.theledger.com/article/20120330/NEWS/120339942
 
Sorry I can’t weigh in on Skittles or branding or anything else intelligent but I had to make sure I put my two cents in, because it’s all about me anyway, right? 
 
Hola…….

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @bdorman264 One of the best case studies about American media is Amanda Knox. When you talk to anyone in Italy, they’re convinced she is guilty. And anyone in the U.S. is convinced she’s innocent. I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle, but what’s fascinating is how it was played out in our media. They made her look innocent. 

HowieSPM
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich  @bdorman264 Bill I know you are guilty. I watched that video of you in the Library with the Candlestick.

bdorman264
4 years 1 month ago

 @HowieSPM  @ginidietrich But it was really grainy and a positive ID was virtually impossible………

SociallyGenius
4 years 1 month ago

@bdorman264 @HowieSPM @ginidietrich Virtually impossible for a mere mortal, perhaps… But a superhero with super clarifying rays, case closed. You done it, Bill.

bdorman264
4 years 1 month ago

 @SociallyGenius  @bdorman264  @HowieSPM  @ginidietrich Brilliant!

KelleeMagee
KelleeMagee
4 years 1 month ago
While I agree it’s too early to make any call on this, “hope it dies down” is a not a strong strategy. I would be building options now that move forward without looking driven by the social mob. Skittles may actually have been given a gift here and have a unique opportunity to make a statement about the diversity angle that is so obviously a part of this case. I might suggest taking time to carefully craft a message referencing the inclusive ‘Rainbow’ element of their brand and make a symbolic donation to an organization with a strong mission for… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago
 @KelleeMagee I really love the Rainbow connection between being one thing to all. I certainly don’t think they should hope it dies down and not do anything. From what I’ve heard, they’re definitely doing what you’re suggesting here and are thinking through scenarios to bring to the public. I can see headlines from your suggestion, just like I can from the other suggestions. If they stay on strategy for their business and not stray because of the vocal activists, they’ll be fine. If they decide to donate and do so because it fits their vision, they’ll be fine. I don’t know what… Read more »
KelleeMagee
KelleeMagee
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich As always, your questions are thought provoking: A strong STATEMENT (sans donation) may do the trick if it’s well crafted. I agree, the only way to do a donation is if there’s a strong corporate mission/vision tie (and I don’t know enough about that to advise). I do think that some of their product is currently resold by charities/fundraisers, that may be a product donation (vs. cash) worth exploring. Thanks for posting such an interesting ‘thinker’ question; will be interesting to watch the follow up!  

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @KelleeMagee I was thinking the donation of candy angle, too. They should invite us in to the discussions around this, don’t you think?

PattiRoseKnight
PattiRoseKnight
4 years 1 month ago

This makes me want to buy Skittes and I don’t even like them.  I don’t think the brand should suffer because of protesters.  But I see what you are saying and how it could pan out.  Mike like Skittles – maybe I’ll buy them more often just to help out a Wrigley product in pre-crisis.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @PattiRoseKnight I love Skittles! Buy them and I’ll eat them. 

jasonkonopinski
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich  @PattiRoseKnight Mmmmm Skittles. 

sydcon_mktg
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich  @PattiRoseKnight How can someone NOT LIKE Skittles…Tast the Rainbow!  LOL!

edwardmbury1
edwardmbury1
4 years 1 month ago

Let me pose this question: Would there be demands (or extortion) to have the manufacturer “donate” money to some kind of cause if the individual involved in this situation had gone out to purchase a different kind of consumer product?  Say beer or wine or spirits? 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @edwardmbury1 I don’t know…what do you think?

TravisMClemens
TravisMClemens
4 years 1 month ago

Great post today, Gini! I really like that you threw it open to the community, and I’ve absolutely LOVED reading the discussion on what everybody would do. Thanks for setting the stage for great PR learning!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @TravisMClemens So what would you do??

TravisMClemens
TravisMClemens
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich  I have no idea, to be completely honest. I think they better do something, obviously, but getting dragged into the racial undertones involved in this tragedy is a bad idea. … Reaching out to the family and covering funeral expenses or establishing a scholarship in his memory would be a nice gesture. BUT, I think Wrigley’s would have to avoid a lot of publicity for it. The best way for word to get out would be for the family to mention it and how grateful they are. … It’s a sticky situation.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @TravisMClemens I even waffle on helping the family. It seems like the right thing to do, from a human being perspective, but is it the right precedent to set? I don’t know.

Lisa Gerber
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich  @TravisMClemens I realy love that she was going to let you off the hook with the one comment, Travis. LOL!! 

russ_dean
russ_dean
4 years 1 month ago

I agree its a tough spot for Wrigley, but it seems like there is no shortage of people making money from this tragedy. Hoodies, commemorative T-shirts, etc. are all being sold around this event (many probably raking in as much as Wrigley) but yet there’s no outcry to stop buying hoodies.

flemingsean
flemingsean
4 years 1 month ago

 @russ_dean Surely there’s a key difference, in that the Skittles were bought prior to the murder and have nothing to do with the murder..?  This really has nothing to do with Wrigley.  They are being dragged into it by opportunists.  It’s quite ugly.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @flemingsean  @russ_dean Yeah…I agree the difference is in that Skittles are being used as the symbol for the tragedy. They’re being used in the memorials, given out at protests, and even used to raise money for the family. The other things – hoodies, shirts – aren’t being used in the same way.

BillyMcKrindle
BillyMcKrindle
4 years 1 month ago

Stop buying Skittles? Are people really saying that? Here’s an idea… stop buying guns.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @BillyMcKrindle No, that’s not what they’re saying. They’re going to keep buying them, but think Wrigley should donate some of their profits because they’re “getting rich” from this tragedy.

courtney petty
4 years 1 month ago
This is a really interesting and quite sad situation. Thanks, Gini for sharing it with us.    I’m torn, here. I think that Wrigley shouldn’t have to donate or take action because they did not create this. But, then I think about the consequences of them staying silent- which I don’t think is the right decision either. As customers, we are very frustrated when we seek reaction and conversation with brands and they ignore it/stay silent, so I think if Wrigley does that they will have bad repercussions.    I think a statement would be a great middle ground. I would… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago
 @courtney petty I’m torn, too! LOL! They did make a statement. Hang on…I’ll find it.   They said: “It’s inappropriate to get involved or comment further as we would never wish for our actions to be perceived as an attempt of commercial gain following this tragedy.”    They’re going to take a hit no matter what.  If they do decide to donate, people will say it’s not enough…and they’ll be seen as giving in to the vocal activists. If they speak publicly, people will say they’re capitalizing on it.   Plus they have the legal issues to think about. They can’t… Read more »
Anthony_Rodriguez
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich  @courtney petty I actually think that that statement from Wrigley is appropriate. They are a candy maker and nothing more. To ask or expect them to be more than what they are because a small minority decided to focus on the Skittles part of this rather the larger picture is wrong.

courtney petty
4 years 1 month ago

 @Anthony_Rodriguez  @ginidietrich I agree! I think their statement is appropriate for the situation – although I’m sure it’s not enough for some people. But, that’s the price you pay… can’t please everyone!
 
Just an unfortunate situation for them. They got dragged into the controversy and they will pay for it no matter what move they make. Kind of glad to see they aren’t just giving in and donating though! 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @courtney petty  @Anthony_Rodriguez “A small minority decided to focus on the Skittles part of this rather the larger picture is wrong.” Amen.

nscibetta
nscibetta
4 years 1 month ago

 @Anthony_Rodriguez I agree. Wrigley is an unwilling participant in this situation and by getting involved would send a host of wrong messages, both to those who are brand loyal and those who are not.  This unfortunate situation is quickly becoming highly politicized and not one where a brand would want/should get involved. Hopefully level heads will prevail.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@SmallArmyAgency What do you think?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@babasyd Oh way.

jenzings
jenzings
4 years 1 month ago
What a tough spot to be in. I’d be very leery of making any kinds of donations: as stated by others below, regardless of the amount it wouldn’t be enough for some. It would also establish a horrible precedent.   Protesters chose to buy Skittles as a demonstration of a type of solidarity with Trayvon Martin. The company didn’t endorse, advocate, or push this. They just sold Skittles. To be angry with the company for the results of the protesters’ own actions is silly. They don’t want the company to profit off of this? Easy solution. Stop buying the Skittles.… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @jenzings It’s pretty indicative of our instant gratification, entitled culture, isn’t it? 

sbpemberton2012
sbpemberton2012
4 years 1 month ago

Wrigley should do a little more investigation to see if Trayvon had a particular interest or activity he (or his family) was involved in or supported in some way–say, Boys and Girls Clubs. Then, Wrigley could work with the family to further that interest or activity as a “neutral” but worthwhile cause with donations or other kinds of support.  If that’s a possibility, Wrigley will be “doing the right thing” without inadvertently becoming associated with an explosive issue unrelated to its products.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @sbpemberton2012 That’s a great idea!

Lisa Gerber
4 years 1 month ago
Hmmm. I would ask the team at Wrigley if there is a way we can support or harness the fundraising energy. Without doing a bunch of digging, I just wonder if they have a platform where they can help others accomplish what they want. For example, if they have a blog or online network or any outlet, is there a champion of the cause (outside of the company) who wants to hop on and “take the mic?”    I would advise them to keep an arm’s length away from the situation exactly for the reasons you mention: They don’t want… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @Lisa Gerber But, as you know from some of our client experiences in the past year, people panic and start to listen to the criticism. I’m not sure who their agency is (Ketchum maybe?), but I can imagine they’re getting pretty solid advice.

Lisa Gerber
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich yep. absolutely. I was speaking in a perfect PR world where clients listen to their PR counsel. A girl can dream. 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @Lisa Gerber LOL!

ahynes1
ahynes1
4 years 1 month ago
John F. Kennedy once said, “When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters.One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity”.  It seems as if there is too little focus on the danger, and not enough on the opportunity.   Like many corporations, Wrigley’s has a commitment to social responsibility.http://www.wrigley.com/global/principles-in-action/people.aspx   “We aim to make a difference by respecting diversity and encouraging inclusion, consistently improving our health and safety practices, providing volunteer opportunities for our associates and through philanthropy with real impact.”Wrigley should focus on this and highlight efforts to help make communities safer.  “Any kid should… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @ahynes1 Great point…so how would you advise them to do that without it a) looking like they’re giving in to the activists, b) staying neutral to the politics of this, and c) staying out of legal trouble?

ahynes1
ahynes1
4 years 1 month ago
 @ginidietrich  I believe that focusing on neighborhood safety can be presented as a neutral issue.  Everyone wants safer neighborhoods, whether they be members of Neighborhood Watch, or parents of black youth.  It is a common ground, and by focusing on the common ground, they aren’t giving into the activists, they are staying neutral to the politics, and are probably least likely to end up in legal problems.If I were there, I would probably look at putting money into grants to neighborhood organizations that are working towards this.  I’d probably try to do a little branding with this, something like the… Read more »
Dave Zan
4 years 1 month ago

 @ahynes1  @ginidietrich  I’m not a PR pro or anything even remotely similar, but I was going to suggest the same thing. Perhaps say something along the lines of “Actually, we’ve been doing our share of CR for nth years via this or that program. Since we’re also doing our Rainbow thing, perhaps (complaining) can tag along. We could use the help.” Something like that, anyway. 🙂

MolliMegasko
MolliMegasko
4 years 1 month ago

I think waiting it out is important here.  We don’t know where this is going and Skittles should not try and profit from it.  (Any sort of move could look like they are even if they are not.)  I think the statement they made was PERFECT.  Taste that rainbow.
 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @MolliMegasko Mmmmmm…Skittles.

KimberlyTaylor
KimberlyTaylor
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich I actually agreed w/ @donny_deutsch when the Skittles topic came up on @todayshow last week. Doing nothing is best right now.

VickiDay
VickiDay
4 years 1 month ago

I would suggest getting involved in fundraising or donation – or maybe earmarking some of this perceived profit for micro financing on youth initiatives in areas where these kinds of deaths have occurred – getting involved with the community via his parents and family – maybe setting up a memorial fund in his name  

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @VickiDay And it looks like there are more deaths like this, that haven’t been publicized, as the news reports show. Perhaps that’s a good compromise, though I’m not convinced they even need to compromise.

ThePaulSutton
ThePaulSutton
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich More to the point, Gini, what would YOU do? :o)

pocojuan
pocojuan
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich Th KKK held a Skittles & Sweet Tea Celebration last wkend – Thousands of protesters wore hoodies had Sweet Tea & ate Skittles

Tinu
4 years 1 month ago
I think that Skittles is a peripheral and unwilling participant in this incident. We’re still not sure exactly what the facts are, and most of the movement is based on emotion, righteous though it may be given what we THINK happened. And in all likelihood, what we think happened is probably what happened. But does that mean Wrigley’s should be forced to make donations? And if so, who do these donations go to?  Under such intense scrutiny, someone’s bound to come up with a reason why whatever organization they pick would be the wrong one. It would be one thing… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @Tinu While it’s not anywhere near the same, I am reminded of Gap, when they crowdsourced their logo. Rather than staying on task, they gave in to a very vocal blogosphere who, as it turns out, was less than one percent of their customer base. Just because the activists are vocal doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

M_Koehler
M_Koehler
4 years 1 month ago

Not a good place for the folks at Wrigley to be in. They truly are d*mned if they do d*mned if they don’t. I think the statement they released is appropriate but most people won’t believe them. They certainly didn’t ask for people to use their product as a form of protest. Would the added weight of a corporation supporting the protests to get the police to do something help? Probably, but do we want for profit corporations stepping in and leading the charge on social issues like this? That frankly scares me.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @M_Koehler It’s not so much that they’re leading the charge on the protests. It’s more that those who are think Wrigley is benefitting from their using Skittles as the symbol so they want the company to donate some of those extra profits to underprivileged youths. I’m not convinced it isn’t an entitlement thing. 

efrainortizjr
efrainortizjr
4 years 1 month ago

In this case, it is unfortunate for Wrigley, they are caught in the middle of a situation which they did not create for themselves. I believe the right thing for them to do at this point is to attempt, at a minimum, to show what they do or have done positively for the community. Does it make it right? Wrigley didn’t go out and begin to capitalize from this. Those whom have made it a symbol of Trayvon Martin’s death are actually ,unknowingly, more responsible for the increased profit gains made by Wrigley.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @efrainortizjr But, just because they have increased profit gains, does that mean they’re not doing the right thing if they don’t donate some of them? How do we know those extra profits don’t have to go to a legal team, now that they’re right in the middle of all of this? It seems like it’s the right thing to do, on the surface, but it also feels like entitlement to me.

craigmillertv
craigmillertv
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich Odd page behavior. Loads up and then disappears. Tried multiple times.

SociallyGenius
4 years 1 month ago
At first blush, I was tempted to say that the Skittles crew should have a heart and give some of the profits back. But no, that’s not the answer. It’s not as if anyone is forcing the mourners to buy the candy, they’re choosing to use it as a tribute. What bothers me is the call to stop buying skittles until they “show me the money.” Those “leaders” are taking the focus away from Trayvon’s cause and turning it into a money grab. That is a worse transgression because they’re the ones who claim to have a vested interest in… Read more »
jenzings
jenzings
4 years 1 month ago
I agree with you and will go one further: if Wrigley did contribute in any way, shape or form, whether it be through a donation to the family or any fund/cause/whatever, the precedent is set. All an enterprising leader needs to do in the next situation that is similar (and, regrettably I do not think this will be the last-ever case of this type), is identify any branded component and turn it into a symbol in an attempt to accomplish the same end.   I just don’t see how the company can or should be held to a standard of… Read more »
jenzings
jenzings
4 years 1 month ago

 @SociallyGenius And wow, that sounds awfully cynical of me. But I think it’s a distinct possibility.

SociallyGenius
4 years 1 month ago

@jenzings I think it’s more realism than cynicism considering our money hungry society. Everyone’s trying to get something for nothing… I agree that it would be a dangerous precedence

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @SociallyGenius  @jenzings It’s not cynical because it DOES set an awful precedent. I’m a capitalist at heart. Heck, I own a business. So maybe that’s why it bothers me to have people saying Wrigley owes them something for “making them rich.” Give me a break.

Leon
Leon
4 years 1 month ago

G’Day Gini,
I’m forever preaching about the importance of PEC: perception;expectation ; consequences. A very famous performance engineer called Geary Rummler once wrote “Consequences are often the key.”
He was talking about staff performance. Clearly it applies in other fields. But it’s a little minefield if we’re not careful. 
 
Managers often ask the question “What’s likely to happen if…..?”  But instead of thinking through the answer they delude themselves into believing that their preferred consequence is the most likely.
 
There’s not much fun after that.
 
Best Wishes
 
Leon

3HatsComm
4 years 1 month ago

 @Leon I learn something new from you all the time: PEC – will totally use that someday, thanks.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @Leon So, based on PEC then, what would you advise Wrigley to do?

3HatsComm
4 years 1 month ago
Agreeing with @SociallyGenius and @jenzings and well, almost everyone: Caught in the middle here.    It’s not YET so much a damned either way on the rock, next to the hard place; but it’s got a nice view. I’m siding with @bdorman264  – this is a a media-generated – and perpetuated – ‘crisis.’ Outside the core group of activists, I’m not sure it is. As with so many of these stories, I could ask my F&F – people online everyday – most probably would not have even heard of this ‘big public outcry.’ Lots of businesses and brands make money of a… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @3HatsComm  I’m with you on this, Davina. It reminds me of the Gap issue when they crowdsourced their logo. They caved to the very vocal blogosphere (who hated it) and changed back to their original logo. As it turns out, the very vocal blogosphere represented less than one percent of their customers. That’s why it’s so important to understand strategy, vision, CSR, and all the other things you describe before making a decision on what to do.

FranchiseKing
4 years 1 month ago

Add hoodies to 10% of the Skittles in each box?
 
Hey, if the pro athletes can wear em to make a point…. 
 
 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @FranchiseKing Just 10%??

FranchiseKing
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich Yes. I don’t think they should push it.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @FranchiseKing LOL!

LaurenPalazzo
LaurenPalazzo
4 years 1 month ago

Decided to check twitter for a current #PR crisis to discuss in class. Should have know you would have a good one! @ginidietrich @spinsucks

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
4 years 1 month ago

@laurenpalazzo @ginidietrich So glad we were able to deliver!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@LaurenPalazzo Or I can always make one up for you!

KellyeCrane
KellyeCrane
4 years 1 month ago

@JulesMonacelli You bet- thought-provoking stuff from @ginidietrich!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@KellyeCrane xoxo

KellyeCrane
KellyeCrane
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich 🙂

trackback

[…] is in the early stages of a PR crisis of a very unique nature. Both the New York Times and the blog Spin Sucks have provided coverage on the issue. According to the New York Times, “Trayvon Martin, the […]

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@KOttavio Hiiiiii!

KOttavio
KOttavio
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich helloo!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@KOttavio Whatcha doin?

KOttavio
KOttavio
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich workin’ lol you?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@KOttavio Same. I hit a wall so I don’t wanna anymore

danieleagee
danieleagee
4 years 1 month ago

@KOttavio Don’t talk to @ginidietrich, talk to me. Helllllo.

KOttavio
KOttavio
4 years 1 month ago

@danieleagee @ginidietrich YOU guys!

danieleagee
danieleagee
4 years 1 month ago

@KOttavio @ginidietrich Yes, us. Come see us! Maybe Gini will actually come out then. And if not, we can drink our feelings!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@danieleagee You! Zip it! @KOttavio

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@danieleagee @KOttavio I’m probably going to see Kate before I see you with all this ridiculous travel

danieleagee
danieleagee
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich I only act out because I miss you. I’m like a neglected mistress. Or stepson.

Let’s stick with mistress.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@danieleagee I prefer mistress, as well

danieleagee
danieleagee
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich Are you in town next Wednesday? The 11th?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@danieleagee I am not. I’ll be on a plane.

MSchechter
MSchechter
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich @danieleagee shes just avoiding you.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@MSchechter Shhhhh! @danieleagee

MSchechter
MSchechter
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich @danieleagee he’s old enough to know the truth, I hear he can even cut his own food now.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@MSchechter It’s especially fun talking about him when he’s clearly still sleeping @danieleagee

MSchechter
MSchechter
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich @danieleagee sleeping or napping. He’s been fussy lately and his schedule is rather erratic…

KOttavio
KOttavio
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich come see meeee! @danieleagee

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@KOttavio Well you know, there are more of us in Chicago. So you should come here @danieleagee

KOttavio
KOttavio
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich once I empty my bank account in Italy for the bro’s wedding, I will start saving up for a Chi-town trip. 🙂 @danieleagee

danieleagee
danieleagee
4 years 1 month ago

@MSchechter @ginidietrich Can’t a brother have a morning meeting and not come back to sleeping accusations? #sigh

MSchechter
MSchechter
4 years 1 month ago

@danieleagee @ginidietrich Looks like it is somebody’s nap time…

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@KOttavio Forget Chicago. I’m going to Italy with you!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@danieleagee @MSchechter Please. We know better.

MSchechter
MSchechter
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich @danieleagee If by morning meeting you mean the recurring dream with the unicorn then yes, we believe you.

KOttavio
KOttavio
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich hehe sono dotati!

danieleagee
danieleagee
4 years 1 month ago

@KOttavio Don’t you need a cabana boy to come along to Italy?

danieleagee
danieleagee
4 years 1 month ago

@MSchechter @ginidietrich It’s a liger, thank you very much.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@KOttavio GELATO!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@Lockstep It’s funny there are so many comments, yet no one agrees on what to do

Lockstep
Lockstep
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich That’s what makes it such an interesting conversation!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@Lockstep It’s really fun, isn’t it??

LeanneHeller
LeanneHeller
4 years 1 month ago

@myleftone now I want skittles. Curse you and your insidious ways.

myleftone
myleftone
4 years 1 month ago

@LeanneHeller no no no no no you’re just helping them capitalize – those greedy corporate bastids!

LeanneHeller
LeanneHeller
4 years 1 month ago

@myleftone whatever, taste the rainbow.

myleftone
myleftone
4 years 1 month ago

@LeanneHeller M&Ms are safer tho. They make friends!

myleftone
myleftone
4 years 1 month ago

@LeanneHeller BTW TweetDeck – I uses it. So I’ll be twittering like a boss.

karlgibson
karlgibson
4 years 1 month ago
    I think that most  people following this story are much more concerned with the public safety of our country’s youth and whether the shooter in the Martin murder will be arrested. I can honestly say that between social media, my own news org I’m at, people on the street, comment boards- I have not heard one person ask ‘What are the makers of Skittles going to do with this sales blitz!?’       Whatever Wrigley does, it should be private and discussed with their counsel first. Like any corporation, they can fund any charitable initiatives, scholarships or programs that… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @karlgibson You’re very right. And I agree it’s ridiculous this is even a topic of conversation. But I am fascinated by the turn of events that has pulled an innocent company into the conversation. As a communication pro, it’s difficult to separate my personal feelings (which mirror what you’ve said) with what they should do professionally. 

karlgibson
karlgibson
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich I agree with you also and I think it’s definitely something that anyone in a public profession or working for a corporation has to consider. It’s a huge ‘what would you do?’ question. I read all of the comments here and there’s so much to draw on. I tried to think of other unplanned PR blitzes of the past (i.e. Three Mile Island coinciding with Columbia Pictures’ “The China Syndrome” in 1979).. Amazing to think of the solidarity and emotion youth have with Skittles for now beyond anything related to candy.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

 @karlgibson And the re-release of Titanic when the Costa Concordia sank. Not the same level as Three Mile Island, but we’re surrounded with the unexpected.

karlgibson
karlgibson
4 years 1 month ago

 @ginidietrich Ah, I knew I was missing one! Exactly!

karlgibson
karlgibson
4 years 1 month ago

.@AmyVernon .@KOttavio .@ginidietrich Thanks for the link on the ‘PR Crisis for Skittles’ debate. I was glad to add my comment!

AmyVernon
AmyVernon
4 years 1 month ago

@karlgibson yay! 🙂 Insanity. Linsanity? Skinsanity?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@karlgibson This made me LOL: ‘What are the makers of Skittles going to do with this sales blitz!?’

karlgibson
karlgibson
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich Ha! Well we know someone will probably ask sooner or later. I really enjoyed your piece & participating today.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 1 month ago

@karlgibson I really enjoyed your comments. We should find a topic we disagree on and debate it via a blog post. I like your brain.

karlgibson
karlgibson
4 years 1 month ago

@ginidietrich Thank you. I’ll be reading and following your work!

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